Diphtheria: FG Sets Up Emergency Taskforce as Disease Spreads to 14 States

Jumoke Olasunkanmi

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, has announced the Federal Government’s establishment of an emergency task force to contain the spread of diphtheria in the country.

In a statement issued by the ministry on Thursday, Dr. Pate disclosed that the task force will operate in an ’emergency mode’ to curb further spread of the disease to other states, as well as provide assistance to affected communities in the country.

He added that in collaboration with Governors of affected states, it will provide funding for mass mobilisation of resources needed for the task force to carry out its assignments.

Diphtheria is a communicable bacterial infection that affects the nose, throat, and skin of infected persons and is caused by the Corynebacterium bacteria.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that children and adults who did not receive at least a single dose of the pentavalent vaccine, and people who live in crowded, unsanitary areas are most vulnerable to the disease.

NCDC’s data also shows that diphtheria has been confirmed in 14 states including Lagos, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Osun, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with Kano having the most number of infected people.

The emergency task force will be chaired by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Ifedayo Adetifa.

Other members include the Director of Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Anyaike Chukwuma; representatives from the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Federal Ministry of Information and the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery (NTLC).

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